Feb. 10 Update -- Most Recent is Last!!!
Well it’s been a fun couple of weeks.
The big holiday was a good time, all though it is hard to be in a big group where everyone is talking about you constantly. I can understand about every other word they say, which makes it worse, knowing what they are saying and not being able to put all your thoughts together in a different language.
It’s happened though, I think in Kyrgyz now.
We went to seven houses and instead of just having tea at each house we had full on Thanksgiving style meals. I tried to eat a little bit at each house, but the women kept dumping more and more on my plate. I made Zamir go with me to the first four or five houses, but after that he quit, but I still had to go.
It was fun though. School break turned out to only be a week, so I was back in school in no time.
The top ten things that have happened to me in the past two weeks:
(Clearly I am in better spirits)
10. GUMMY BEARS AT THE BAZAAR!!! Real gummy bears, I about had a heart attack. Between the three of us shopping we bought them all.
9. I got a package – so it was only band-aids and amoxicillin from the Peace Corps office, but it was mail.
8. I got a banya, and after only 21 days.
7. I discovered purple Fanta, which is quite good.
6. We got a new puppy, I named it Puppy.
5. We got a new kitten, I named it Kitty.
4. My students (well most of them) have mastered the Simple Present Tense.
3. I learned how to burn my own garbage, feed and water the cow and use a gas stove.
2. Jenny, a K-12 volunteer who went home for Christmas brought back Rice Crispy treats.
And by far the best thing that has happened since I have been in country:
1. A student brought over a disc that his older brother, (a soldgier in Afganastan) gave him: THE ULTIMATE REESE WITHERSPOON CULLOECTION. I mean really, could life get any better than watching Legally Blonde 1 &2 and Sweet Home Alabama over and over? I think not. Of course I had to give it back though.
Not a bad couple of weeks. Last Friday my host sister, who stayed with us for a couple of nights, arranged for her husband of three years to take me into Talas to use the Internet and to shop for gifts for my host mother’s birthday. And my host sister. It was both of their birthdays this past weekend.
Anyway, Zamir and I planned to go, and Asen (her husband) said he would pick us up at about 11. At about 1:30, we finally headed toward Talas. First we had to stop and get gas, which consists of a man with a bucket and a funnel. Then, after we picked up one of Asen’s friends, Mirhat, we were ready. Mirhat, Zamir and I in the back of the little four-door ancient thing. I can’t even decipher what kind of car it is. Asen driving and his twin brother Alman in the front. Wow. Didn’t feel like Kyrgyzstan that’s for sure. It was like being back in college. The boys are all my age, despite Asen’s being married with two kids. They had the music blasting and were singing and driving like maniacs. I think we had to be going at least 70 most of the time. We got into Talas after a fun ride and the boys dropped me off at the University to use the Internet and spent the allotted hour driving around hollering at University girls. I came outside and found them sitting by the building with the windows down and music playing loudly. After I got in they starting blowing kisses at girls and played the same Russian song over and over on the tape player. They yell ‘Chong Cuz’ which means young girl, but literally translates to ‘Big Girl.’ That took some getting used to. When talking to any young girl you say chong cuz, especially to bartenders and waitresses. It throws you off at first when you think someone is calling you a big girl, since the word for big is chong. And girl is cuz.
Anyway, Zamir and I bought a nice sweater for Zana, my host sister and serving platters for my host mother. Then we all piled in and headed back to the village.
On the way home, we stopped and Zamir stole a puppy from his uncle’s house along the way. I was appalled, but apparently it’s okay and normal to steal pets from family.
Of course we ran out of gas on the way. We had to hitch hike back to the nearest village, except it’s not hitch hiking, since you have to pay whoever gives you a ride, and got a coke bottle of gas, that’s how you but it here. We eventually made it back to the village, and Zamir and I were exhausted. We watched a weird Christmas movie that was on TV in Russian and then I crashed.
Both birthdays being on Saturday, we had a big party at Zana’s house. Her husband was scheduled to pick us up at 5 p.m. Zamir and I spent the day making ‘sandwiches’ and attempting to go to the post office, which of course was closed. Our sandwiches consist of cucumbers, shredded carrot salad, cheese, mayo and pickles on a piece of bread, with tomatoes, if we can find any.
They fired up the banya at around 4, which I thought was ridiculous, being that we had to leave at 5. I didn’t get into the banya until five til five, so I knew we were going to be late. He came back for us a 6. It was a much needed banya, after 21 days without one.
We left for the party at 6. I was immediately pushed into the formal dining room with my host mother, and Zamir went off with the boys (Don’t know if I have ever mentioned that Zana is a ‘kelen’ which means her job in life is to take care of her husband’s family. She always must cover her hair and must bow to her father-in-law when she enters and exits the room. Her husband has three brothers and Zana has a five-month old baby and a three-year-old, and must take care of the entire household. She cooks, cleans does it all). We had vodka immediately, and lots of food. Zana wasn’t ever allowed to join her own birthday party. She had to keep cooking, because we eat two meals. And look after the babies, as her husband just watches TV and talks to his friends. I was pretty angry.
We were toasting her for her birthday and she wasn’t even part of the party.
January 31, 2006
Well the last week has been pretty good.
First off I discovered that I can very easily make a pretty good pizza. I even made homemade sauce. Toppings are pretty limited right now. So cheese, corn and onions are about it. I haven’t been able to find any olives or mushrooms, all though I hate mushrooms anyway. I also found cocoa puffs at the store. Just one box, but they were cocoa puffs. I of course bought them and had good breakfast this week. Who knows if they will ever get more in.
Last Friday I got to use Internet in my own village. I walked to the licium and the Internet actually worked. I was able to email, read about All My Children, check out the news, and even order some new clothes from American Eagle, which should be arriving in Sandpoint any time now.
Still no mail here, just a small envelope with JELLY BELLYS!!!! They were so good. The first American candy I have had in a long time. I sat in front of the computer and ate Jelly Bellys for two hours. It was a great day.
Classes have been difficult lately, mostly with my older students, as they are experiencing senoritis, like any high school senior might about this time of the year. They don’t seem to want to learn any English and the boys spend most of their time chatting or running around chasing girls. Sometimes I just send them away, out of the class so that I can actually teach the students that want to be there.
Nothing exciting has happened in weeks. No mice, no mail, no snowballs in the face, nothing.
Oh last Saturday, I had a pizza party with my students though. It was pretty fun. Four girls came to my house and I taught them how to make pizza. They loved it. We made personal sized pizzas and listened to music, (thanks to my host brother I now have a huge selection of Kyrgyz and Russian music on my computer) and then they helped me do the dishes and left.
I have been tutoring a 24-year-old girl who want to be an English translator in Bishkek. She comes over every afternoon and meets with me to work on grammar and practices speaking. She learned English six years ago from the first volunteer who came to Kyzyl-Adyr (My village), Robert. He actually wrote a book about his experiences if anyone is interested, it is titled This is Not Civilization.
February 1, 2006
Well my illness has overcome me. I have had to take a few days off from school, actually by doctor’s orders. And have spent the past two days laying in bed playing Snake on my cell phone, drinking homemade apple juice and reading. I have read The Loop by Nicholas Evans. White Oleander, Catch 22 and started The Screwtape Letters since Tuesday. (It’s Wednesday evening). But it’s been nice to rest. Tomorrow, no school for me, all though I must venture out of my bedroom to go to the post office. I am not only expecting eight packages from the States, but medicine from the doctor as well. My host sister is here with her babies for a few days. Whenever the power is out at her house she comes here. I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to sit at home and wait on my husband’s family. (My future husband be warned, whoever you are). Dur (one of her son’s, he’s three), has been sick as well, so he is hanging out with me. He drank all my juice though, but I got him back. I gave him a real cough drop – he was expecting candy.
Today I gave my host brother a lecture about going out so much. He seems to be busy every night. Maybe I am just bitter, since I get rather bored in the evening. His response was ‘Don’t tell me in America you didn’t go out partying and to movies and to see your friends. You just don’t have any here. I do.’ Pretty funny. He also had me convinced that the puppy, ‘Puppy,’ died last night. (It is suffering from worms). I about had a heart attack, but it was a joke on me. I found him in the cow barn, sleeping.
So no Internet this week, me not being able to leave the house, and Nichole feeling just as miserable on the other side of town. We’re a bunch of saps out here in Kyrgyzstan. Erich is toughing out the winter… I think he’s healthy.
February 6, 2006
Well I survived. And I am back in school this week. It was actually a pretty good day. My lessons went well and I got a small package from home!
Not the missing boxes, but still, the cutest Victoria Secret ‘Pink’ pajamas ever. I will wear the shirt to school it is so cute! And hot cocoa mix and two new books. Being that I have read just about everything in sight the last week or so, they couldn’t have come at a better time, so thank you thank you thank you mommy!
So anyway, today I watched the craziest television show ever. AMERICAN MEN WHO COME TO KYRGYZSTAN LOOKING FOR YOUNG GIRLS TO TAKE HOME.
They actually come on to this show with a translator and make a plea for a wife, and then wait for girls to call in to the show. They give explanations to why they want brides, and then they have a question-answer session with the hostess.
Disgusting. I don’t even know what to say. I couldn’t believe it. The English was in the background, then the men’s voices were dubbed over. They said things like ‘Kyrgyz girls are so beautiful and they value family.’ Who are they kidding? It was sickening. And my host mom just watched and laughed along with the studio audience.
February 7, 2006
Today was a good day. After school I spent the afternoon basking in the sun with my puppy, from the top rung of our barn ladder. It was great. It was warm and bright out and I got some color in my face.
I had a good day at school as well. We played Bingo in my classes. But with the not-so-advanced students it was a simple version. For example, if you have brown hair you put your marker down,, if you have two cows at home, or if you are wearing blue. In my advanced classes we played parts of speech Bingo, a game sent to me by my Daddy. The kids loved it, and they can pick out adverbs and prepositions better than I can. I was thoroughly impressed.
I am going to make my own Bingo cards for my beginner students this weekend. And I have a few American tokens to give away as prizes. Pencils and flags and pins and such. And some nasty Kyrgyz candy.